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Madison monsters: Meet our ghosts, ghouls, witches and werewolves

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Author Topic: Madison monsters: Meet our ghosts, ghouls, witches and werewolves  (Read 93 times)
Keira Kensington
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« on: December 04, 2014, 01:01:36 am »

 His final work, in 1868, is known today as Farm Place, a small, unassuming building next to the UW Stock Pavilion. It and the nearby Horse Barn are the last survivors of an early cluster of wood-frame buildings on the agricultural campus. Around 90 years later Farm Place was converted to a studio for then artist-in-residence Aaron Bohrod.

For an unknown reason, Kutzbock committed suicide during the construction of Farm Place. He went to Picnic Point, waded into the lake and drowned himself. His spirit is said to still haunt the point, usually in the form of mist, seen to be drifting downtown toward the Capitol.

Lake Mendota's spirits

The Ho-Chunk believed Lake Mendota was home to a great water spirit they called "Winnebozho." They would propitiate it with offerings of tobacco. Later Madisonians called it a "sea serpent," though Mendota isn't a sea and whatever-it-is was not described as serpentine.

Sightings began in the 1860s, when a printer, W.J. Park, and his wife were boating near Governor's Island on the north shore of Lake Mendota. They came alongside what appeared to be a log or piece of driftwood. Park raised his oar to tap it, when the water suddenly boiled up. The "log" was diving.

"That this was a monster of some sort, we have no doubt," Park later stated. Several more sightings occurred in 1892. By then, the creature seems to have migrated to Lake Monona. It was seen there on Sept. 26 by Joe Daubner and on Oct. 7 by an Oregon resident who declared that he would not go on the water again "for all the money in the capital city." He described it as 20 feet long, with a large head that was flat on top.

The best sighting came on Oct. 17, 1892, when a group of 12 men saw a 35-foot creature once again on Mendota. It was spotted in the Yahara River at the same period, where it was again described as looking like a log.

Five years later, Eugene Heath, a salesman, shot at it twice on Monona. One newspaper reported that "it is probably the same animal which is credited with having devoured a dog which was swimming in the lake a few days ago."

Whatever its diet, the last known sightings occurred during the summer of 1917. A fisherman at Picnic Point saw something 100 feet away with "a large snake-like head, with large jaws and blazing eyes." Two university students also saw it from their fraternity pier. One of them said it looked like "a huge snake or dragon." They reported that "it had a friendly, humorous look in its big eyes," though the two still fled to a nearby frat house.

Additional reports were made by swimmers and sailors. Overturned canoes and uprooted piers were blamed on the creature all summer. In all, however, the monster was "a rather good-natured animal, playing pranks," wrote Brown, a little more than a decade later. But, he also noted, "People made more use of the lake after he disappeared."
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